COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Blog

2021 with masks on each number.

Backed by Google, epidemiologists launch a sweeping Covid-19 data platform

February 24, 2021 Last January, Samuel Scarpino wasn’t sure what to make of Covid-19. The director of Northeastern University’s Emergent Epidemics Lab, he was soon pulled into working on a spreadsheet, started by a group of international epidemiologists, to collect and openly share granular data on individual Covid-19 cases around the world. Today, that project launched its complete website, Global.health, which will enable open access to more than 5 million anonymized Covid-19 records from 160 countries. Each record can contain dozens of data points about the case, including demographics, travel history, testing dates, and outcomes.

Read the entire article by Katie Palmer in STAT here or visit Global.health website.

Newly updated: NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines

February 20, 2021 Get the latest treatment guidelines--20 contact hours, $29. Treatment Guidelines covering all aspects of care and treatment of COVID-19 patients. Go to course . . .

COVID, the road ahead.

U.S. life expectancy fell by a year in the first half of 2020, CDC report finds

February 18, 2021 This happened during the 1918 flu pandemic also. 

Read the entire article by Rebecca Sohn in STAT here.

The myth of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Covid vaccines: Why false perceptions overlook facts, and could breed resentment

February 17, 2021 Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s health emergencies director, had a conversation recently with his mother, the kind that lots of public health people are having these days, much to their dismay. Ryan’s mother was concerned about one of the Covid-19 vaccines in use in Ireland, where she lives. The one made by AstraZeneca.

Clinical trials had shown the vaccine offered protection against the disease, but less than the vaccine made by Moderna or the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech. Ryan’s mother was worried the vaccine might not be good enough.

Ryan, never one to mince words, decided it was time for a come-to-Jesus chat with his 80-year-old mother. “Whatever vaccine they show up with, you take it,” he told her. “Because that is the best decision you can make on that day for your health.”

Read the entire article by Helen Branswell in STAT here.

As the pandemic ushered in isolation and financial hardship, overdose deaths reached new heights

February 16, 2021 Among the unrelenting death statistics flowing from the CDC last month, one grim non-Covid-19 statistic stood out: 81,003 deaths. That’s the number of people who died from drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending last June: a 20% increase and the highest number of fatal overdoses ever recorded in the U.S. in a single year.

A man who has overdosed being helped by a friend. Source: CDC

Read the entire article by Usha Lee McFarling in STAT here

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day

Is chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine useful in treating people with COVID-19, or in preventing infection in people who have been exposed to the virus?

February 12, 2021 Drugs used for other diseases were tried out in COVID-19, and this included chloroquine, used for malaria; and hydroxychloroquine used for rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus. The authors sought evidence of the effects of these drugs in treating people ill with the disease; in preventing the disease in people at risk of getting the disease, such as health workers; and people exposed to the virus developing the disease.

See the entire review Singh, Ryan, Credo, Chaplin, and Fletcher in Cochrane Library here.

Protecting Lower-Income Countries with COVID-19 Vaccines Requires Global Solidarity

February 11, 2020 The medical and moral imperative for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is why COVAX was created. Co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, together with the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, COVAX is a truly global solution.

Shots Heard Round the World graphic.

Learn more in this article by Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Improve How Your Mask Protects You

February 10, 2021

Do

  • Choose a mask with a Nose Wire

An illustration of a mask with a nose wire.

  • Use a Mask Fitter or Brace
  • Check that it Fits Snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin
  • Add Layers of material

An illustration of how to layer your masks.

  • Make sure you can see and breathe easily
  • Knot and Tuck ear loops of a 3-ply mask

Do Not

  • Do not combine 2 disposable masks

Do not combine 2 disposable masks.

  • DO not combine an N-95 with any other mask

Source: CDC

It’s not the ‘British variant.’ It’s B.1.1.7

February 9, 2021 When President Trump referred to the “Chinese virus,” the media were quick to point out problems with this terminology, lambasting it as xenophobic and racist. But as new variants appear, some media outlets are doing the same thing: talk of the “British,” “Brazilian,” and “South African” Covid-19 variants abounds. Even scientific journals are using this terminology.

But labeling viral variants by their geographic origin is incorrect. Just as the “China virus” should be called SARS-CoV-2 or the novel coronavirus, so too should new variants be described by their proper nomenclature: B.1.1.7, not “U.K. variant” and P.1, not the “Brazilian variant.”

Read the entire article by Katie Baca and Susana Bejar in STAT here.

‘What other variants might be out there?’ An expert on viral evolution on what’s happening with coronavirus mutations

February 8, 2021 Researchers like Emma Hodcroft, a molecular epidemiologist at the University of Bern, have been looking out for genetic changes to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. The virus, like any virus, has picked up mutations as it spread, but it’s only been in the past few months that it has been altered in ways that could dramatically shift the dynamics of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read the entire interview by Andrew Joseph in STAT here.

COVID-19: Its Effect on Specific Groups

February 6, 2021 This 7-unit course highlights 5 articles that describe the impact of COVID-19 on specific communities and groups: households, African-American communities, African American churches, Indigenous Peoples and communities, and men. It describes why crowded indoor environments with sustained close contact, such as households, are particularly high-risk settings.

Photos of 4 people for the COVID inclusion diversity group. 

It outlines why African Americans, compared with all other racial/ethnic groups, are more likely to contract COVID-19, be hospitalized for it, and die of the disease. It suggests strategies to promote emergency preparedness during the pandemic among African American churches, and discusses why the pandemic has disproportionally affected Indigenous Peoples. Finally, it notes that more men than women are dying of coronavirus disease worldwide, and attempts to understand why. 

Read the course here.

Which Masks are Better for COVID-19?

A chart showing which masks are better for COVID. 
Source: preventepidemics.org

Prevent Epidemics

February 5, 2021 PreventEpidemics.org by Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, is the world's first website to provide clear and concise country-level data on epidemic preparedness and the ability to find, stop, and prevent epidemics.

Excellent website!

Should you get the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant? Here's what experts say.

February 5, 2021 Pregnant people might hesitate to get vaccinated because there’s no data on how it works for them. Medical experts lay out what is known and how each person can weigh their own risks and benefits.

Read the entire article by Amy McKeever in National Geographic Science here.

With a seductive number, AstraZeneca study fueled hopes that eclipsed its data

February 3, 2021 A new paper released this week suggested that a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University not only protected clinical trial participants from developing disease, but also may significantly reduce transmission of the virus that causes the disease.

In the recent burst of data on Covid-19 vaccines, that suggestion stood out. The question of whether Covid-19 vaccines reduce transmission has been a critical and unanswered one, creating uncertainty over whether people who have been vaccinated will still be able to be infected by and transmit onward SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid, to those who have not yet been vaccinated. 

Read the entire article by Matthew Herper and Helen Branswell in STAT here.

Kids don’t need Covid-19 vaccines to return to school

February 3, 2021 The notion is out there that public school students should not return to in-person learning until they’ve been vaccinated. That proposition worries me. Here are five reasons why schools can and should open at 100% capacity before a vaccine for those under age 16 is available.

Three kids walking to school.

Read the entire article by Vinay Prasad in STAT here.

Comparing the Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson

February 2, 2021 Last Friday, Johnson & Johnson announced that a one-dose vaccine being developed by its vaccines division, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, had been shown to be 66% protective against moderate to severe Covid infection in a multicountry study. But, importantly, it was 85% effective in protecting against severe disease. And there were no hospitalizations or deaths among people in the vaccine arm of a large clinical trial. 

Read the entire article by Helen Branswell in STAT here.

Eric Topol: a Favorite Source of Evidence-Based Information

January 29, 2021 Eric Topol is the Founder and Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, Professor of Molecular Medicine, and Executive Vice-President of Scripps Research.

Visit Eric Topol's website here

J&J one-dose Covid vaccine is 66% effective, a weapon but not a knockout punch

January 29, 2021 Johnson & Johnson said Friday that its single-dose Covid-19 vaccine reduced rates of moderate and severe disease, but the shot appeared less effective in South Africa, where a new coronavirus variant has become common.

Read the entire article by Matthew Herper in STAT here.

Lasting immunity found after recovery from COVID-19

January 26, 2021 The immune systems of more than 95% of people who recovered from COVID-19 had durable memories of the virus up to eight months after infection. The results provide hope that people receiving SARS-CoV-2 vaccines will develop similar lasting immune memories after vaccination.

Read the entire article from the National Institutes of Health here.

Undercounting of Covid-19 deaths is greatest in pro-Trump areas, analysis shows

January 25, 2021 Tens of thousands of Covid-19 deaths are going unreported in the U.S., with far more missed in counties that strongly supported former President Trump, according to new research.

Read the entire article by Olivia Goldhill in STAT here.

Shots Heard Round the World

January 24, 2020 A private, thoroughly vetted, proudly evidence-based, rapid response network dedicated to combating anti-vaccine attacks on the social media pages, web sites, and review sites of providers, practices, hospitals, and whole health systems. If you stand up for vaccine science, we’ll stand up for you.

Shots Heard Round the World graphic.

Access Shots Heard Round the World here.

With painstaking effort, Black doctors’ group takes aim at Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy

January 22, 2021 In September, after the Food and Drug Administration authorized certain Covid-19 treatments based more on presidential puffery than on clinical data, some physicians decided to take matters into their own hands. Specifically, the National Medical Association, a professional society of African American doctors, formed its own in-house FDA to vet the data when the official one seemed not to be. At first, the task force was framed as a stand-in — another instance in the long history of Black leaders stepping in where the government had failed. And eventually, its members did review the results and endorse the emergency authorizations for both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.

Read the entire article by Eric Boodman in STAT here.

Biden, in inaugural address, pledges the U.S. ‘can overcome’ Covid-19

January 20, 2021 Biden’s new administration, which has pledged that scientists and public health leaders will shape pandemic-response policy, is set to spend the day issuing a flurry of executive orders aimed at shifting the U.S. response to Covid-19. Chief among them: a long-expected move to remain part of the World Health Organization.

A photo of Joe Biden at his inaugural on Jan. 20, 2021. Patrick Semansky, POOL/AP

Read the entire article by Lev Facher in STAT here.

What we now know — and don’t know — about the coronavirus variants

January 19, 2021 The coronavirus variants are, in a word, confusing. By now, you have likely heard about different variants that first raised trouble in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, and now maybe California — though the jury is very much out on whether that last one is cause for concern. To make a messy alphabet soup even more jumbled, these variants have unwieldy names, and they each contain mutations with unwieldy names of their own.

Read the entire article by Andrew Joseph in STAT here.

Covid-19 deaths are the highest they’ve ever been — and the more infectious variants could make things much worse

January 15, 2021 They’ve raced through South Africa, the United Kingdom, and, increasingly, elsewhere, and now, new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus have gained toeholds in the United States. If they take off here — which, with their transmission advantages, they will, unless Americans rapidly put a brake on their spread — it will detonate something of a bomb in the already deep, deep hole the country must dig out of to end the crisis.

An illustration of COVID-19 virus particles.

Read the entire article by Andrew Joseph in STAT News here

Watch: How — and why — coronaviruses mutate

January 14, 2021 Like all viruses, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is mutating all the time. Recently some concerning mutations have emerged: the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom, which is thought to be approximately 50% more contagious, and the B.1.351 variant first seen in South Africa, which may also have potential to decrease the efficacy of vaccines. These variants are not believed to lead to more serious disease, but a more transmissible virus can put even more stress on an already overloaded health care system, and ultimately lead to more deaths.

Watch the video from STAT News here.

The new silicone elastometric half-piece respirator, VJR-NMU: A novel and effective tool to prevent COVID-19

January 13, 2021 A silicone N99 mask, named VJR-NMU N99 half-piece respirators. The VJR-NMU N99 respirators surpassed the expected levels of protection, and can be useful in the context of a global shortage of PPE. This is the first version of the masks, and further modifications are needed to improve user friendliness and provide adequate protection.

COVID N-99 Respirator

Biden’s Covid-19 team reconsiders pandemic plan in light of more infectious coronavirus variants

January 13, 2021 President-elect Biden will address growing concerns about new, more transmissible coronavirus variants as he lays out his plans to speed up the sluggish U.S. vaccine rollout in a press conference this week.

Read the entire article by Lev Facher in STAT here.

We lost to SARS-CoV-2 in 2020. We can defeat B-117 in 2021

January 12, 2021 We are barely a week into 2021 and already there are urgent warnings about a novel pandemic virus strain spreading surreptitiously and exponentially across the world.

This seems like déjà vu. But in a sense that’s a good thing: This is not just another chapter in the exhausting saga of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, which newly available vaccines will slowly bring under control.

Humanity wasn’t remotely prepared for our struggle with SARS-Cov-2 when it emerged late in 2019. So we lost to it.

A cell heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus. A cell heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2. NIAID

Read the entire article by Kevin Esvelt and Marc Lipsitch in STAT here

Genetic Variants of SARS-CoV-2—What Do They Mean?

January 9, 2021 Over the course of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, the clinical, scientific, and public health communities have had to respond to new viral genetic variants. Each one has triggered a flurry of media attention, a range of reactions from the scientific community, and calls from governments to either “stay calm” or pursue immediate countermeasures. While many scientists were initially skeptical about the significance of the D614G alteration, the emergence of the new “UK variant”—lineage B.1.1.7—has raised widespread concern. Understanding which variants are concerning, and why, requires an appreciation of virus evolution and the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2.

Read the entire article by Adam S. Lauring, MD and Emma B. Hodcroft, PhD in JAMA here.

CDC reports more allergic reactions to Covid-19 vaccines, but cases remain few

January 8, 2020 Twenty-nine people in the United States have developed anaphylaxis after being vaccinated against Covid-19 since the vaccine rollout began, health officials reported Wednesday, with cases occurring after vaccination using both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines.

Gloved hand holding a vaccine bottle.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at present it looks like anaphylaxis cases are occurring at a rate of about 5.5 per 1 million vaccine doses given, though the agency cautioned that figure may change as the vaccination effort continues.

Read the entire article by Helen Branswell in STAT News here.

January 5, 2021 Nancy Messonnier, a top federal health official involved in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, predicted on Tuesday that delays in the administration of the shots would improve soon, even as public health experts have piled up complaints about the slow rollout and about the gap between the number of doses distributed versus those actually going into people’s arms.

Nancy Messonnier, MD, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Source: NCIRD

Read the entire article by Andrew Joseph in STAT News here.

Britain takes a gamble with Covid-19 vaccines, upping the stakes for the rest of us

January 4, 2020 In an extraordinary time, British health authorities are taking extraordinary measures to beat back Covid-19. But some experts say that, in doing so, they are also taking a serious gamble.

In recent days, the British have said they will stretch out the interval between the administration of the two doses required for Covid-19 vaccines already in use — potentially to as long as three months, instead of the recommended three or four weeks. And they have said they will permit the first dose and second dose for any one person to be from different vaccine manufacturers, if the matching vaccine is not available.

Read the entire article by Helen Branswell in STAT here.

New COVID-19 Courses on ATrain Education

  1. An African American husband, wife, and 2 children.  African American Communities and COVID-19
  2. Houses in a neighborhood.  Household Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
  3. FAITH logo.Leveraging African American Church Participation to Address COVID-19
  4. A photo of a man.  Men and COVID: Understanding Sex Differences

Peer-reviewed report on Moderna COVID-19 vaccine publishes

December 30, 2020 The investigational vaccine known as mRNA-1273 was 94.1% efficacious in preventing symptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to preliminary results from a Phase 3 clinical trial. The vaccine also demonstrated efficacy in preventing severe COVID-19. Investigators identified no safety concerns and no evidence of vaccine-associated enhanced respiratory disease.

Anthony Fauci receiving a COVID vaccine. 
Anthony Fauci receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Source: NIH.

Read the entire article NIAID here.

Phase 3 trial of Novavax investigational COVID-19 vaccine opens

December 28, 2020 NIH- and BARDA-funded trial will enroll up to 30,000 volunteers.

Read the entire article in NIH News Releases here.

Little certain about UK COVID variant except continued spread

December 24, 2020 The new, highly mutated SARS-CoV-2 strain circulating in the United Kingdom is likely already sowing COVID-19 around the world, scientists say, fueling worries about recent surges that have swamped hospitals and whether it can thwart currently authorized vaccines.

A scan of a cell infected with coronavirus particles.

Read the entire article by Mary Van Beusekom in CIDRAP News and Perspective here.

Beware the Danger of "Vaccine Euphoria"

December 23, 2020 The advent of Covid-19 vaccines is a medical miracle, yet also a tantalizing and dangerous psychological milestone: It’s not the beginning of the end of the pandemic but, more likely, “the end of the beginning,” to borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill. The first day of distribution of vaccine in the United States illustrated the point. California accepted its initial delivery of 33,150 doses, just as it was beginning to average more than that number of new coronavirus cases every day."

Such realities, though grim, have been easy to overlook. Exuberant headlines about vaccines — Now two! Millions more doses! — have grabbed attention, as have rightfully joyous social media photos of healthcare workers receiving their inoculations.

“We get so kind of blinded by vaccine euphoria — the light at the end of the tunnel — that we underestimate how long that tunnel is, and how dangerous that tunnel is,” said Peter Sands, executive director of the Swiss-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has expanded its mission to combat Covid.

Read the entire article by Todd S. Purdom in STAT here.  

A side-by-side comparison of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines

December 22, 2020 What follows is a head-to-head comparison of the ones developed by Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, and by Moderna. Note that the chances of most individuals being able to “pick” one or the other are slim to none, especially in the initial rollout. The vaccine available is the one you’ll get.

Read the entire article by Helen Branswell in STAT here

Why it matters that the coronavirus is changing – and what this means for vaccine effectiveness

December 22, 2020 A new variant of SARS-CoV-2 is spreading rapidly in the United Kingdom, with over 1,400 cases since September. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, generally accumulates mutations slowly over time, but this new variant had accumulated many mutations quickly.

An illustration of COVID spike proteins. As the spike proteins on the surface the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutate the shape changes, which may affect the ability of the coronavirus to infect cells. Tharun15/iStock via The Conversation

Read the entire article by David Kennedy in The Conversation here.

A ‘duty to warn’: An ER doctor, shaped by war and hardship, chronicles the searing realities of Covid-19

December 21, 2020 As a Marine combat medic in Iraq’s Al-Anbar province, Cleavon Gilman saw bodies torn apart by IEDs. He heard agonizing screams, saw burned flesh and penetrating trauma. He stood in pools of blood, tending to fellow Marines with severed spinal cords, missing limbs, and intestines bulging through gaping wounds. He emptied the pockets of the dead, collecting baby pictures and ultrasound photos, removed dog tags, and stacked bodies, sometimes two and three at a time, into refrigerated trailers. He still has PTSD, though he returned from the war 16 years ago. Even so, that experience did not prepare him for the coronavirus.

A photo of Cleavon Gilman, MD.

Read the entire article by Usha Lee McFarling in STAT here. Source: Emergency Medicine Residents' Association

I wear a facemask because...

December 19, 2020. Source: CDC.

FDA grants authorization to Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, the second in the U.S.

December 18, 2020 The Food and Drug Administration on Friday issued an emergency authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna, the second such vaccine to be cleared in the United States. Inoculations should begin within days, as was the case following last week’s authorization of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech.

Read more about this momentous event in an article by Matthew Herper in STAT here.

The story of mRNA: How a once-dismissed idea became a leading technology in the Covid vaccine race

December 18, 2020 Before messenger RNA was a multibillion-dollar idea, it was a scientific backwater. And for the Hungarian-born scientist behind a key mRNA discovery, it was a career dead-end.

A photo of Katalin Karikó, an mRNA scientist.

Read entire article by Damian Garde in STAT here. Photo source: Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0.

10 reasons why Anthony Fauci was ready to be the face of the US pandemic response

December 17, 2020 Although perhaps only recently a household name, Fauci is no Tony-come-lately. Over the past four decades he’s played prominent roles as a scientist, physician, administrator and spokesman. You know what he’s been up to over the past several months. But what of his previous nearly 80 years? And what made him the figure he has become?

A photo of Anthony Fauci.

Read the article in The Conversation here.

'Like a Hand Grasping': Trump Appointees Describe the Crushing of the CDC

December 16, 2020 “Everyone wants to describe the day that the light switch flipped and the CDC was sidelined. It didn’t happen that way,” McGowan said. “It was more of like a hand grasping something, and it slowly closes, closes, closes, closes until you realize that, middle of the summer, it has a complete grasp on everything at the CDC.”

A photo of CDC headquarters.

Read the article by Noah Weiland in Yahoo News here.

Factors Associated with Positive SARS-CoV-2 Test Results in Outpatient Health Facilities and Emergency Departments Among Children and Adolescents Aged <18 Years — Mississippi, September–November 2020

December 15, 2020 Among children and adolescents aged <18 years in Mississippi, close contact with persons with COVID-19 and gatherings with persons outside the household and lack of consistent mask use in school were associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, whereas attending school or child care was not associated with receiving positive SARS-CoV-2 test results.

Close contacts with persons with COVID-19 and gatherings contribute to SARS-CoV-2 infections in children and adolescents. Consistent use of face masks and social distancing continue to be important to prevent COVID-19 spread.

Where children are more likely to contract COVID.

Read the article by Hobbs et al., in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report here. Source: MMWR, December 15, 2020

“It feels like a beginning of the end.”-Christy, MICU nurse at U of U Health and first front line worker to get vaccinated in the state of Utah.

University of Utah nurse receiving a COVID vaccine.

December 15, 2020 “Lots of emotions. Excitement, joy. I’m still trying to process it all," says Christy Mulder, a MICU nurse 
@UofUHealth
 - ‘An overwhelming day’ as health care workers receive Utah’s first doses of COVID-19 vaccine

NIH-funded COVID-19 home test is first to receive over-the-counter authorization from FDA

December 15, 2020 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization (EUA) on December 15, 2020 for an innovative COVID-19 viral antigen test developed with support from the RADx Initiative. Ellume USA designed the test for use at home without a prescription. This is the first EUA awarded for an at-home COVID test that can be purchased over the counter.  Ellume developed the test with a $30 million contract and technical support from the RADx Tech program, managed by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of NIH.

FDA-approved COVID-19 home test kit.

Read the entire press release from NIH here. For more information about COVID-19 testing, please click here to see our COVID-19 CEU course. 

The COVID-19 vaccines rush: participatory community engagement matters more than ever

December 14, 2020 The announcement of effective and safe vaccines for COVID-19 has been greeted with enthusiasm. Discussions continue about the ethical challenges of ensuring fair access to COVID-19 vaccines within and across countries, and which groups should be prioritised. There are concerns about equity in access to COVID-19 vaccines. Estimates as of Dec 2, 2020, suggest direct purchase agreements have allowed high-income countries to secure nearly 4 billion confirmed COVID-19 vaccine doses, compared with 2·7 billion secured by upper and lower middle-income countries. Without such agreements, low-income countries would probably have to rely on COVAX, which would achieve only 20% vaccination coverage.

Read the entire article by Burgess et al in The Lancet here.

The coronavirus at 1: A year into the pandemic, what scientists know about how it spreads, infects, and sickens 

December 14, 2020 It’s dangerous enough that it dispatches patients to hospitals in droves and has killed more than 1.6 million people, but mild enough that most people shrug it off. It blocks one arm of the immune system from responding as it takes hold, but lures other parts into dangerous hyperdrive. It homes in on cells high up in the airway — think the nose and throat — but also burrows deeper into the lungs, maximizing infectiousness without ceding how sick it can make people.

“It’s sort of right in that sweet spot,” said Kristian Andersen, an infectious disease expert at Scripps Research Institute.

Read the entire article by Andrew Joseph in STAT here.

FDA grants historic authorization to a Covid-19 vaccine, setting stage for rollout

December 11, 2020 The Food and Drug Administration on Friday issued an emergency authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, a seminal moment in the effort to curb a pandemic that has so far infected an estimated 16 million people and killed nearly 300,000 in the United States.

Read the entire article by Helen Branswell in STAT here.

Baricitinib plus remdesivir shows promise for treating COVID-19

December 11, 2020 The combination of baricitinib, an anti-inflammatory drug, and remdesivir, an antiviral, reduced time to recovery for people hospitalized with COVID-19, according to clinical trial results published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

A cell heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (yellow).

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a cell heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (yellow), isolated from a patient sample. Source: NIAID.

Read the entire article from the National Institutes of Health here

FDA advisory panel endorses Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

December 10, 2020 A panel of outside experts on Thursday recommended the Food and Drug Administration issue an emergency use authorization to the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, a vaccine that appeared to be highly efficacious in a Phase 3 clinical trial.

Read the entire article in STAT here.

Secretary of the Army Announces New Policy of Zero Tolerance for Sexual Harassment

December 8, 2020 Following an investigation into harassment at Ft. Hood in Texas, Secretary of the Army Ryan D McCarthy stated that it had found “major flaws” at Ft. Hood and a command climate “that was permissive of sexual harassment and sexual assault.” He ordered that 14 officials, including several high-ranking leaders, be relieved of command or suspended and vowed sweeping reform that would extend far beyond Ft. Hood to affect more than 1 million soldiers and Army civilians nationwide. Mr. McCarthy invited those who don’t trust the chain of command to go directly to him.

Read the entire article by Sarah Mervosh and John Ismay in The New York Times here.

On the ground, the pledge to vaccinate 20 million against Covid-19 in December seems unrealistic

December 7, 2020 Hospitals across the United States are preparing for a Covid-19 vaccine distribution timeline that’s well behind official government targets as they face ongoing confusion about the process for inoculating frontline employees.

Read the entire article by Olivia Goldhill in STAT here.

‘There absolutely will be a black market’: How the rich and privileged can skip the line for Covid-19 vaccines

December 3, 2020 Athletes, politicians, and other wealthy or well-connected people have managed to get special treatment throughout the pandemic, including preferential access to testing and unapproved therapies. Early access to coronavirus vaccines is likely to be no different, medical experts and ethicists told STAT. It could happen in any number of ways, they said: fudging the definition of “essential workers” or “high-risk” conditions, lobbying by influential industries, physicians caving to pressure to keep their patients happy, and even through outright bribery or theft.

A roll of 100-dollar bills. 

Read the entire article by Olivia Goldhill and Nicholas St. Fleur in STAT here.

The Covid-19 vaccines are a marvel of science. Here’s how we can make the best use of them

December 2, 2020 Two vaccines developed with stunning speed — and showing remarkable initial efficacy — are poised to be approved for emergency use in the United States in December. A number of other vaccines are expected to follow.

Read the entire article by Helen Branswell in STAT here.

How nanotechnology helps mRNA Covid-19 vaccines work

December 1, 2020 Lipid nanoparticles are the fatty molecular envelopes that help strands of mRNA — the genetic messenger for making DNA code into proteins — evade the body’s biological gatekeepers and reach their target cell without being degraded. They are enabling some of the most advanced technologies being used in vaccines and drugs.

COVID Nanotechnology An illustration of a nanoparticle delivering its contents directly into a cancer cell. Source: National Cancer Institute

Read the entire article by Elizabeth Cooney in STAT here.

The PPE crisis didn’t go away: Across the U.S., grassroots supply networks are trying to fill the void

December 1, 2020 The failure of the federal government to procure adequate protective equipment for frontline workers is an ongoing tragedy. At the same time, a grassroots movement including organizations like Get Us PPE is trying to fill the void. With the pandemic projected to worsen in the coming months, the question is whether it will be enough.

A photo of a person's hands showing gloves and gown. Photo: CDC

Read the entire article by Irena Hwang in STAT here.

Data show hospitalized Covid-19 patients are surviving at higher rates, but surge in cases could roll back gains

November 23, 2020 Patients hospitalized with Covid-19 are surviving at higher rates than in the early days of the pandemic, gains that data and interviews with experts suggest are driven by a more refined understanding of the disease and how to treat it — and, crucially, less strain on hospitals that had been inundated at times. But clinicians warn that this progress won’t withstand what happens when crushes of patients again overwhelm hospitals, as is now occurring in dozens of U.S. states. With the country setting new records of hospitalizations daily, care is getting threatened, and death rates — not just deaths — could increase.

Read the entire article by Andrew Joseph in STAT here.

With strong data on two Covid-19 vaccines, we have more answers about the road ahead--and questions too

Novermber 16, 2020 Moderna, joined by U.S. government scientists, announced Monday that their mRNA vaccine candidate was 94.5% effective in preventing Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to an interim analysis of a 30,000-patient clinical trial. The news comes exactly one week after Pfizer and BioNTech said their respective Covid-19 vaccine candidate, also created using mRNA technology, was more than 90% effective in its own 60,000-patient clinical trial.

A 3D print of the COVID-19 spike protein. 3D print of a spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in front of a 3D print of a SARS-CoV-2 virus particle. The spike protein (foreground) enables the virus to enter and infect human cells. On the virus model, the virus surface (blue) is covered with spike proteins (red) that enable the virus to enter and infect human cells. NIH

Read the entire article by Adam Feuerstein, Damian Garde, and Andrew Joseph in STAT here.

Why a COVID-19 vaccine could further imperil deep-sea sharks

November 13, 2020 Shark liver oil helps make vaccines more effective, but increased demand for the substance could harm critically endangered species.

Bigeyed Sixgill Shark Photo by Jean-Lou Justine - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Read the entire article by Justin Meneguzzi in National Geographic here.

Press Conference: The Airborne Transmission of COVID-19

November 9, 2020 During the American Association for Aerosol Research's (AAAR) 38th Annual Conference, scientists convene to share insights on the airborne spread of the novel coronavirus.

Listen to the video here.Gilead faces pressure to relinquish valuable FDA voucher awarded with remdesivir approval

November 2, 2020 A prominent advocacy group is asking Gilead Sciences (GILD) to relinquish a valuable voucher that came with Food and Drug Administration approval of its remdesivir treatment for Covid-19, arguing the voucher is “an entirely unnecessary and an inappropriate incentive” for a drug that has “limited” effectiveness and is already generating huge profits.

Read the entire article by Ed Silverman in STAT here.

Preventing the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 With Masks and Other “Low-tech” Interventions

October 31, 2020 Modalities in the combination prevention “toolbox” against the spread of SARS-CoV-2 include wearing masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene, prompt testing (along with isolation and contact tracing), and limits on crowds and gatherings. If a vaccine has only moderate efficacy, or if vaccine uptake is low, these other modalities will be even more critical.

Six people wearing masks.

Read the entire article by Lerner, Folkers, and Fauci in JAMA Network here.

NIH scientists discover key pathway in lysosomes that coronaviruses use to exit cells

October 28, 2020 Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have discovered a biological pathway that the novel coronavirus appears to use to hijack and exit cells as it spreads through the body. A better understanding of this important pathway may provide vital insight in stopping the transmission of the virus.

An illustration of the process by which the coronavirus exits a healthy cell. Illustration courtesy of NIH Medical Arts

Read the article from the National Institutes of Health here.

Video: mRNA vaccines face their first test in the fight against Covid-19. How do they work?

October 26, 2020 Messenger RNA may not be as famous as its cousin, DNA, but it’s having a moment in the spotlight. This crucial intermediary in the protein-making process is now being harnessed by scientists to to try to protect us from disease — including Covid-19.

Watch the video (2:02) by Hyacinth Empinado on STAT here.

Remdesivir’s hefty price tag ignores NIH investment in its creation

October 22, 2020 These are huge dollar figures that companies are not accounting for when establishing a fair market price. Their discoveries simply would not be possible without the basic science laying the foundation.

A bottle containing the antiviral drug Remdesivir. Source: Gilead Sciences

Read the entire article by Ekaterina Cleary in STAT here.

‘At a breaking point’: New surge of Covid-19 cases has states, hospitals scrambling, yet again

October 20, 2020 As hospitalizations for Covid-19 inch up around the country, some states are readying plans for field hospitals. Communities are delaying reopening plans and even imposing new measures, though some governors remain opposed to additional restrictions. Deaths — currently standing about 220,000 — have not surged again yet, but that might just be a matter of time.

A patient room in a field hospital in Atlantic City, NJ.A patient room in a field hospital in Atlantic City, NJ. Source: CC BY-NC 2.0.

Read the entire article by Andrew Joseph in STAT here.

Answering Key Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines

October 16, 2020 The US government is investing in rapid development of vaccines against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), several relying on new technologies.1 In the US, 4 vaccine candidates are in phase 3 studies with initial results expected soon. If studies succeed, 1 or more vaccines may become available within a few months.

A researcher holding a vaccine bottle in a gloved hand. Source: NIH.

Read the entire article by Goodman, Grabenstein, and Braun in JAMA Network here.

Coronavirus in the U.S.: Where cases are growing and declining

October 12, 2020 Nationwide, cases are flourishing in 28 states and territories, as the early days of October have seen the national tally steadily rise above 50,000 new cases per day. The autumn surge is even creeping into pockets of the Northeast, zones long thought recovered, in another sign that the country remains far from achieving herd immunity without an effective vaccine. At the current pace, the nation will surpass eight million cases by October 17 and could easily reach 300,000 deaths before the new year. The pandemic has already claimed nearly twice as many American lives as those lost in every U.S-involved conflict since World War II combined.

Read the entire article in National Geographic Science here.

For many of Washington’s most powerful, Covid-19 public health guidance does not apply

October 5, 2020 “Public officials who know they have been exposed to the virus and should be in quarantine are either displaying blatant arrogance or numbing ignorance,” Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy, told STAT.

President Trump Nominates Judge Amy Coney Barrett for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

President Trump Nominates Judge Amy Coney Barrett for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Source: Public domain CC PDM 1.0.

Read the entire article by Helen Branswell in STAT here.

NIH to assess and expand COVID-19 testing for underserved communities

September 30, 2020 The National Institutes of Health has awarded nearly $234 million to improve COVID-19 testing for underserved and vulnerable populations. A part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative, the RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program will support 32 institutions across the United States and will focus on populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic. These groups include African Americans, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Latinos/Latinas, Native Hawaiians, older adults, pregnant women and those who are homeless or incarcerated.

A doctor interviewing a patient for COIVD symptoms.

Read the entire article at NIH here.

The Road Ahead: Charting the coronavirus pandemic over the next 12 months — and beyond

September 22, 2020 So many challenges still lie ahead. Flu season. An ongoing child care quandary. A tumultuous election and potential transition of power. Whoever wins, we’ll need them to shepherd a vaccine rollout — a logistical and public relations campaign without (here’s that word again) precedent.

COVID-19 The Road Ahead Illustration by Mike Reddy for STAT

Read the entire article by Andrew Joseph in STAT here.

Pandemic isolation has killed thousands of Alzheimer’s patients while families watch from afar

September 16, 2020 Beyond the staggering U.S. deaths caused directly by the novel coronavirus, more than 134,200 people have died from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia since March. That is 13,200 more U.S. deaths caused by dementia than expected, compared with previous years, according to an analysis of federal data by The Washington Post.

Old woman looking out window.

Read the entire article by William Wan in The Washington Post here.

COVID-19 Pandemic: A World in Turmoil

September 15, 2020 ATrain Education offers a comprehensive, 10 contact hour course addressing the pressing need to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic started; the chain of infection; R Naught (R0, the basic reproduction number); the reason the USA can’t look forward to herd immunity; the status of testing and vaccines; the reasons for public health directives; the history of coronaviruses; and the dire impacts of the virus on minority populations.

An illustration of the structure of the COVID-19 virus.

Access the course by JoAnn O'Toole, RN, BSN, Lauren Robertson, BA, MPT, and Nancy Evans, BS here.

Substance use disorders linked to COVID-19 susceptibility

September 14, 2020 A National Institutes of Health-funded study found that people with substance use disorders (SUDs) are more susceptible to COVID-19 and its complications. The findings suggest that health care providers should closely monitor patients with SUDs and develop action plans to help shield them from infection and severe outcomes.

An image of COVID-19 and how addiction affects the brain.

Read the entire news release from the National Institutes of Health here.

Fauci warns that Labor Day celebrations could drive Covid-19 spikes

September 4, 2020 If people once again celebrate without precautions, it could upend the progress the U.S. is making in reducing Covid-19 infections and leave the nation in a more precarious position as it approaches the fall, the country’s top infectious disease specialist said in an interview Friday.

Read the entire article by Andrew Joseph in STAT here.

Inexpensive steroids reduce deaths of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, WHO analysis confirms

September 2, 2020 Use of inexpensive, readily available steroid drugs to treat people hospitalized with Covid-19 reduced the risk of death by one-third, according to an analysis encompassing seven different clinical trials conducted by the World Health Organization and published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dexamethasone

Read the entire article by Adam Feuerstein in STAT here.

Scientists are reporting several cases of Covid-19 reinfection — but the implications are complicated

August 28, 2020 Whether it’s six months after the first infection or nine months or a year or longer, at some point, protection for most people who recover from Covid-19 is expected to wane. And without the arrival of a vaccine and broad uptake of it, that could change the dynamics of local outbreaks.

Neutralizing antibodies bound to a COVID SARS-CoV-2 virion. Neutralizing antibodies (blue, purple, orange) bound to the receptor binding domain on a SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Christopher O. Barnes and Pamela J. Bjorkman, California Institute of Technology.

Read the entire article by Andrew Joseph in STAT here.

Four scenarios on how we might develop immunity to Covid-19

August 25, 2020 As the world wearies of trying to suppress the SARS-CoV-2 virus, many of us are wondering what the future will look like as we try to learn to live with it. Will it always have the capacity to make us so sick? Will our immune systems learn — and remember — how to cope with the new threat? Will vaccines be protective and long-lasting?

Read the entire article by Helen Branswell in STAT here.

Dozens of COVID-19 vaccines are in development. Here are the ones to follow.

August 21, 2020 Here are the COVID-19 vaccine prospects that have made it to phase three trials and beyond.

Person getting a vaccine.

Read the entire article by Amy McKeever in National Geographic here.

Seven months later, what we know about Covid-19 — and the pressing questions that remain

August 17, 2020 The “before times” seem like a decade ago, don’t they? Those carefree days when hugging friends and shaking hands wasn’t verboten, when we didn’t have to reach for a mask before leaving our homes, or forage for supplies of hand sanitizer. Oh, for the days when social distancing wasn’t part of our vernacular.

Read the entire article by Andrew Joseph, Helen Branswell, and Elizabeth Cooney in STAT here.

What 'airborne coronavirus' means, and how to protect yourself

August 11, 2020 The COVID-19 pandemic has revived a decades-old debate about how respiratory diseases travel—which affects the safety practices experts recommend.

Droplets from a man sneezing.

Read the entire article by Maya Wei-Haas in National Geographic here.

How the Pandemic Defeated America: A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.

August 4, 2020 How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust mote has humbled and humiliated the planet’s most powerful nation. America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom.

COVID-19 Cases in U.S.

Read the entire story by Ed Yong in The Atlantic here.

Anthony Fauci Explains Why the US Still Hasn’t Beaten Covid

July 29, 2020 The director of NIAID talks about vaccines, school reopenings, hostility toward science, and the lessons we’ll learn when (yes, when) we recover.

Anthony Fauci 2 Credit: NIAID, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Read the entire article by Steven Levy in Wired here.

Phase 3 clinical trial of investigational vaccine for COVID-19 begins

July 27, 2020 A Phase 3 clinical trial designed to evaluate if an investigational vaccine can prevent symptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in adults has begun. The vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, was co-developed by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna, Inc., and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The trial, which will be conducted at U.S. clinical research sites, is expected to enroll approximately 30,000 adult volunteers who do not have COVID-19.

Three scientists examining a test tube.

Read the entire article at NIH here.

NIH leadership details unprecedented initiative to ramp up testing technologies for COVID-19

July 22, 2020 RADx efforts seek to create capacity for 6 million daily tests by the end of 2020, address underserved populations.

Lab worker testing for SARS.

Read the entire article here.

Trump said more Covid-19 testing ‘creates more cases.’ We did the math

July 20, 2020 In a June 15 tweet, President Trump said testing “makes us look bad.” At his campaign rally in Tulsa five days later, he said he had asked his “people” to “slow the testing down, please.” At a White House press conference last week, he told reporters, “When you test, you create cases.”

Lab worker with testing swab.

Read the entire article by Sharon Begley in STAT here.

A New Understanding of Herd Immunity

July 13, 2020 The concept of herd immunity comes from vaccination policy, in which it’s used to calculate the number of people who need to be vaccinated in order to ensure the safety of the population. But a coronavirus vaccine is still far off, and last month, Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that, because of a “general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling,” the U.S. is “unlikely” to achieve herd immunity even after a vaccine is available.

Read the entire article by James Hamblin in The Atlantic here.

Pathophysiology, Transmission, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019

July 10, 2020 As of July 1, 2020, SARS-CoV-2 has affected more than 200 countries, resulting in more than 10 million identified cases with 508 000 confirmed deaths. This review summarizes current evidence regarding pathophysiology, transmission, diagnosis, and management of COVID-19.

COVID infecting a healthy cell.

Read the entire review by Wiersing and colleagues in JAMA here.

Data show panic and disorganization dominate the study of Covid-19 drugs

July 6, 2020 In a gigantic feat of scientific ambition, researchers have designed a staggering 1,200 clinical trials aimed at testing treatment and prevention strategies against Covid-19 since the start of January. But a new STAT analysis shows the effort has been marked by disorder and disorganization, with huge financial resources wasted.

Read the article by Matthew Herper and Erin Riglin in STAT here.

How scientists know COVID-19 is way deadlier than the flu

July 2, 2020 After months of study, scientists have better clarity on the coronavirus's lethal potential—which makes recent case surges all the more alarming.

Novel coronavirus.

Read the full article by Carrie Arnold in National Geographic here.

A User's Guide To Masks: What's Best At Protecting Others (And Yourself)

July 1, 2020 A growing body of evidence supports the idea that wearing face masks in public, even when you feel well, can help curb the spread of the coronavirus — since people can spread the virus even without showing symptoms. That's the main reason to wear a mask: to protect other people from you.

A selection of cloth masks.

See the entire article by Maria Gody here.

Video and Article: It’s not just the lungs: The Covid-19 virus attacks like no other ‘respiratory’ infection

June 26, 2020 This coronavirus “has such a diversity of effects on so many different organs, it keeps us up at night,” said Thomas McGinn, deputy physician in chief at Northwell Health and director of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. “It’s amazing how many different ways it affects the body.”

Coronavirus image.

Watch the video and read the accompanying article by Sharon Begley at STAT here.

CDC broadens guidance on Americans facing risk of severe Covid-19

June 25, 2020 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday broadened its warning about who is at risk of developing severe disease from Covid-19 infection, suggesting even younger people who are obese or have other health conditions can become seriously ill if they contract the virus.

Read entire article by Helen Branswell in STAT here.

Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19 (COVID-19) Frontline Heroes

June 20, 2020 Sheila Bedoni: Navajo Department of Health Community Health Worker Supervisor. Her team covers a rugged, rural region, with many residents living at least an hour by car from a paved road or health services. The Navajo Department of Health Community Health Workers are frequently the sole lifeline to food, water, and wellness checks for many high-risk and elderly residents; a responsibility that Sheila and her team don’t take lightly.

Sheila Bedoni, Navajo Department of Health

Read about Sheila Bedoni here.

How Exactly Do You Catch Covid-19? There Is a Growing Consensus

June 16, 2020 Surface contamination and fleeting encounters are less of a worry than close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods.

Cell heavily infected with coronavirus.

See full article in the Washington Post here.

Anthony Fauci Explains How To Make It Through His ‘Worst Nightmare’

June 12, 2020 An excellent and uplifting interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci on NPR's Science Friday.

A photo of Anthony Fauci.

Listen to the entire interview here.

Widespread facemask use could shrink the 'R' number and prevent a second COVID-19 wave

June 9, 2020 Population-wide use of facemasks keeps the coronavirus "reproduction number" under 1.0, and prevents further waves of the virus when combined with lockdowns, a modelling study from the universities of Cambridge and Greenwich suggests.

The research suggests that lockdowns alone will not stop the resurgence of SARS-CoV-2, and that even homemade masks with limited effectiveness can dramatically reduce transmission rates if worn by enough people, regardless of whether they show symptoms.

N95 respirator mask.

Read the entire article from the University of Cambridge here.

Job-Based Insurance in a COVID-19 World

June 5, 2020 The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 47.5 million people were at risk of losing employer-sponsored insurance because of massive job losses over the past 2 months.

Women at work.

Read full article from JAMA Health Forum here.

The COVID Tracking Project

May 30, 2020 An excellent resource with the latest numbers on tests, confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and patient outcomes from every US state and territory. Also includes a racial data tracker and information about a COVID exit strategy. Brought to us by the volunteers at The Atlantic.

Click here to access The COVID Tracking Project

Study estimates 24 states still have uncontrolled coronavirus spread

May 23, 2020 The coronavirus may still be spreading at epidemic rates in 24 states, particularly in the South and Midwest, according to new research that highlights the risk of a second wave of infections in places that reopen too quickly or without sufficient precautions.

How a virus spreads (R naught).

Read the article from the Washington Post here.

Peer-reviewed data shows remdesivir for COVID-19 improves time to recovery

May 22, 2020 The randomized, controlled trial enrolled hospitalized adults with COVID-19 with evidence of lower respiratory tract involvement (generally moderate to severe disease). Investigators found that remdesivir was most beneficial for hospitalized patients with severe disease who required supplemental oxygen. Findings about benefits in other patient subgroups were less conclusive in this preliminary analysis.

Access the news release from NIAID here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Mortality Rate

May 21, 2020 Considering that a large number of cases are asymptomatic (or present with very mild symptoms) and that testing has not been performed on the entire population, only a fraction of the SARS-CoV-2 infected population is detected, confirmed through a laboratory test, and officially reported as a COVID-19 case. The number of actual cases is therefore estimated to be at several multiples above the number of reported cases. The number of deaths also tends to be underestimated, as some patients are not hospitalized and not tested.

Read the entire article from Worldometer here.

Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV): An Unprecedented Partnership for Unprecedented Times

May 18, 2020 It has been more than a century since the world has encountered a pandemic like coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and the rate of spread of COVID-19 around the globe and the associated morbidity and mortality have been staggering.1 To address what may be the greatest public health crisis of this generation, it is imperative that all sectors of society work together in unprecedented ways, with unprecedented speed. In this Viewpoint, we describe such a partnership.

Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD; Paul Stoffels, MD, JAMA Network. Read the full article here.

A Guide to Pandemic Scams, and What Not to Fall For

May 13, 2020 Fraudsters see opportunities to target us in these uncertain times. Here are their most popular schemes and how we can protect ourselves.

Lightning

Read the full article in the New York Times here.

They don’t struggle to breathe—but COVID-19 is starving them of oxygen

May 8, 2020 One alarming symptom robs many patients of blood oxygen well before they notice. Doctors are racing to understand it.

A CT scan of human lungs.

Read full article in National Geographic here.

A snapshot of coronavirus in the U.S.: A high plateau of new cases portends more spread.

May 7, 2020 For all the talk of a second wave of coronavirus cases hitting the United States this fall, one consideration is often lost: The country is still in the throes of the first wave of this pandemic.

A graph showing coronavirus daily cases on May 11, 2020

Read the full article in STAT here.

The race for coronavirus vaccines: a graphical guide: Eight ways in which scientists hope to provide immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

May 6, 2020 More than 90 vaccines are being developed against SARS-CoV-2 by research teams in companies and universities across the world. Researchers are trialling different technologies, some of which haven’t been used in a licensed vaccine before. At least six groups have already begun injecting formulations into volunteers in safety trials; others have started testing in animals. Nature’s graphical guide explains each vaccine design.

Read the full article in Nature here.

COVID-19: May 4, 2020 Updates on IHME COVID-19 predictions

May 5, 2020 Updated IHME COVID-19 Projections: Predicting the Next Phase of the Epidemic

Link to full article here.

How California nursing homes became coronavirus hot spots

May 4, 2020 At Canyon Springs Post-Acute in Santa Clara County, 69 patients and 30 staff had tested positive, and six residents are dead. "We weren't prepared," said a Redwood Springs nurse who has tested positive. "We lost control of the situation because we weren't talking about it." All three facilities share the same parent company: Plum Healthcare Group, a California entity that controls about 50 skilled nursing facilities in the state.

Woman staring out a window.

Read full article here.

A City Nurse: Healing in the I.C.U. During COVID-19

May 4, 2020 Meet Cady Chaplin, an intensive-care nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital. She just turned thirty. “Sometimes, after my shift, I walk in my apartment, slide down the door, and cry,” she says.

Read the full article in the New Yorker here.

The Covid-19 crisis too few are talking about: health care workers’ mental health

April 30, 2020 An excellent article from Jessica Gold, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis about the stress healthcare workers are feeling working during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic has unfolded, healthcare workers or all stripes are dealing with an unprecedented crisis--one in which many say they feel betrayed by their employers, the healthcare system, and the government.

Sad man.

Read the full article here.

Caution Needed on the Use of Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19

April 24, 2020 The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has propagated global shock waves that have disrupted nearly every aspect of human endeavor. Nowhere has this been more evident than in health care. Health care delivery systems in some locations have been overwhelmed, and even those not so severely affected have had to reorganize and restructure to concentrate resources to meet an anticipated surge of patients who are critically ill.

In the absence of rapid and reliable testing, proven therapies, or even standard protocols for treatment, physicians and other clinicians have been forced to improvise, in some cases relying on the thinnest of evidence, to treat patients who are desperately ill.

Lab worker testing for SARS virus.

Link to article: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2765269

IHME Estimates for Easing Social Distancing

April 21, 2020 The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has projected when states may be able to consider easing currently implemented social distancing policies – if and only if – strong containment measures already have been instituted.

Based on the latest available data and updated predictions of COVID-19 prevalence, the table below outlines potential timing of these considerations. Estimates suggest that 30 states may fall below the 1 prevalent case per 1,000,000 threshold during May (greens to the light yellow in the map below). This threshold is considered a conservative estimate of the number of COVID-19 infections that states could reasonably identify via active case detection and contact tracing.

Estimate for Relaxing Social Distancing

Link to full article: http://www.healthdata.org/covid/updates

COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines (NIH.gov)

April 21, 2020 These Treatment Guidelines have been developed to inform clinicians how to care for patients with COVID-19. Because clinical information about the optimal management of COVID-19 is evolving quickly, these Guidelines will be updated frequently as published data and other authoritative information becomes available.

A cell covered with COVID-19 virus particles. Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (green) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (orange), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. NIAID

Link to NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines: https://covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/introduction/

Sequence for Donning and Doffing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

April 18, 2020 Here's a nice graphic showing PPE for the COVID-19 pandemic. The link below this graphic shows the CDC-recommended sequence for donning and doffing PPE. 

COVID-19 PPE for Healthcare Personnel

Link to CDC donning and doffing guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/ppe/PPE-Sequence.pdf

Antiviral remdesivir prevents disease progression in monkeys with COVID-19

April 17, 2020 Early treatment with the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir significantly reduced clinical disease and damage to the lungs of rhesus macaques infected with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to National Institutes of Health scientists.

AN electron microscope image of the COVID virus shedding cells. This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round gold objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the U.S.NIAID-RML Source: NIH

Link to full report: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/antiviral-remdesivir-prevents-disease-progression-monkeys-covid-19

COVID-19 Compiler

April 11, 2020 A map showing the total number of coronavirus cases by county and state for the entire country.

Link to the map: https://covid19.topos.com/

Larry David, Master of His Quarantine, an interview with Maureen Dowd

April 8, 2020 When I ask if he is hoarding anything, he is outraged. “Not a hoarder,” he said. “In fact, in a few months, if I walk into someone’s house and stumble onto 50 rolls of toilet paper in a closet somewhere, I will end the friendship."

Maureen Dowd, New York Times, April 4, 2020

Link to the the entire interview:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/04/style/larry-david-curb-your-enthusiasm-coronavirus-psa.html

Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Slow the Spread

April 4, 2020 CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Link to CDC page on face covering: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

See Cases in Real Time--Johns Hopkins University

This website is tracking cases in real time using arcgis technology. Each time you access the site, the data is updated. Excellent resource being widely used by scientists and the media to keep us up-to-date on the coronavirus pandemic.

Johns Hopkins graph showing the increase in COVID 19 cases as of May 11, 2020.

Link to Johns Hopkins: www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

Everyone Thinks They're Right About Masks

April 1, 2020 As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many people are now overthinking things they never used to think about at all. Can you go outside? What if you’re walking downwind of another person? What if you’re stuck waiting at a crosswalk and someone is there? What if you’re going for a run, and another runner is heading toward you, and the sidewalk is narrow? Suddenly, daily mundanities seem to demand strategy.

  A graphic showing the correct placement of a face mask.

Link to full article:
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/04/coronavirus-pandemic-airborne-go-outside-masks/609235/

Homemade personal protective equipment

March 30, 2020 The article contains specific instructions on how to construct a handmade mask, which was tested against an aerosol challenge with some measurable benefit.

Link to article on CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy).

Stephen Curry and Dr. Anthony Fauci | COVID-19 Q&A

March 26, 2020 Stephen Curry is joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to talk all about COVID-19.

Link to You Tube interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuX826AGXWU

The Chain of Infection

March 25, 2020 The very nature of healthcare settings makes them vulnerable to the spread of infections because they serve patients who are ill and are therefore susceptible hosts. Patients with altered immunity such as people with cancer or HIV/AIDS are at high risk for infection. Surgical patients are at risk because any incision creates a new portal of entry for pathogens. Elderly patients may have weakened immunity simply because of their age. Healthcare workers are themselves at risk of infection because of their close daily contact with patients who may harbor pathogens. Thus, infection control (and breaking the chain of infection) is a primary component of safe, effective patient care.

The chain of infection.

We are offering this course at 50% off. Normally $10, we've cut the price to just $5.00. Take this opportunity to brush up on the chain: pathogen, susceptible host, portal of entry, mode of transmission, portal of exit, and reservoir. Go to Chain of Infection ►

CDC Guidance for Extended Use and Limited Reuse of N95 Masks

March 23, 2020 Supplies of N95 respirators can become depleted during an influenza pandemic or wide-spread outbreaks of other infectious respiratory illnesses. Existing CDC guidelines recommend a combination of approaches to conserve supplies while safeguarding health care workers in such circumstances. These existing guidelines recommend that health care institutions:

  • Minimize the number of individuals who need to use respiratory protection through the preferential use of engineering and administrative controls;
  • Use alternatives to N95 respirators (e.g., other classes of filtering facepiece respirators, elastomeric half-mask and full facepiece air purifying respirators, powered air purifying respirators) where feasible;
  • Implement practices allowing extended use and/or limited reuse of N95 respirators, when acceptable; and
  • Prioritize the use of N95 respirators for those personnel at the highest risk of contracting or experiencing complications of infection.

Link to full Guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hcwcontrols/recommendedguidanceextuse.html

Rampant Lies, Fake Cures and Not Enough Beds: What the Spanish Flu Debacle Can Teach Us About Coronavirus

March 17, 2020 Lasting just over a year, the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic stands as a lasting reminder of what happens when governments and their citizens fail to meet a crisis head on. From our perch today, as we brace for the coronavirus’ inevitable spread, the missteps of 1918 seem eerily prescient: A lack of leadership from Washington, with the gaps filled unevenly at the state and local levels.

Public officials who either lied, dissembled or made up facts. Hucksters who used popular media to misinform the public and make a quick buck in the process. Public health infrastructure that was inadequate to the challenge. And ordinary citizens who often refused to heed the warning of experts.

Joshua Zeitz
Politico magazine, March 17, 2020

Spanish flu death chart.

Link to full article:
https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/03/17/spanish-flu-lessons-coronavirus-133888

Covid-19--Navigating the Uncharted

March 26, 2020 In this New England Journal of Medicine article, Anthony Fauci, Clifford Lane, and Robert Redfield discuss a study by Li and colleagues that provides a detailed clinical and epidemiologic description of the first 425 cases reported in the epicenter of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, China. The article provides a case definition, case fatality rate, and discusses Covid-19's efficiency of transmission. 

Link to full article:
https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2002387?query=RP

The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What's Coming

Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, who warned of pandemic in 2006, says we can beat the novel coronavirus—but first, we need lots more testing.

March 19, 2020 In this fascinating interview in Wired magazine with Dr. Larry Brilliant, the epidemiologist talks about novel viruses, flattening the curve, the effectiveness of N95 masks, and the "gold ring"--an eventual vaccine and eventual herd immunity. Brilliant shares his experience and knowledge in a straightforward and engaging manner.

Link to full article: https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-interview-larry-brilliant-smallpox-epidemiologist/

Pandemic by Lynn Unger

March 23, 2020

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to  whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know  that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has become clear.)
Do  not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise the world your love—
for better or worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we both shall live.

The Rev. Dr. Lynn Unger leads the Church of the Larger Fellowship, about which you can find more at their website, Quest for Meaning. She gave permission for ATrain Education to publish her poem “with all my best wishes to those who are on the front lines of this crisis.” March 23, 2020.